On November 8, 2023

Hartland town manager candidate withdraws application

 

Select Board considers repairs to outdoor classroom lean-to on town land

By Curt Peterson

According to Hartland Select Board chair Phil Hobbie, the town was in negotiations with a desirable candidate for the vacant town manager position when the individual withdrew their application.

The position has been filled on an “acting” basis by Finance Director Martin Dole since the former manager David Ormiston resigned last spring.

“We started with a good pool of candidates,” Hobbie said. “We’ve restarted the search with our consulting firm, and we have 11 or 12 new resumes to consider. We’re very optimistic while still extremely disappointed about losing the prior choice.”

The most recent Select Board meeting, Monday, Nov. 6, Hartland Elementary School Principal Lyndsie Perkins approached the board with a proposal for improving the outdoor classroom that uses the “17-acre wood” next to the school. The vacant property, once used as the town fairground, belongs to the town, and there’s a written agreement allowing the school to use it for educational purposes.

“The outdoor classroom was particularly valuable during the Covid pandemic when outdoor activities were encouraged,” Principal Perkins said.

A rudimentary lean-to was damaged badly during Tropical Storm Irene and additionally deteriorated during the 2023 flooding and rainstorms. Perkins asked the board, as representatives for the town, for their blessing for improving the trail and rebuilding the deteriorated shelter.

A prior Select Board had provided funds for trail repairs and improvement in the past, Hobbie noted. The school has contracted to make the trail accessible for challenged users.

Perkins cited an Agency of Natural Resources (ANR) “Outdoor Equity” grant that seems appropriate for the project, and hopes to find other sources for funding. She said having approval of the general plans by the town will be necessary before seeking grants, etc.

Hobbie said the board would need more detailed estimates of the cost and extent of the improvements before taking any action. 

Slides showing two possible shelter choices included a lean-to and a closed-in building that Perkins said could be used to store gear and supplies in addition to being a learning tool.

Board member Tom Kennedy said the town has to consider how “permanent” any structures would be.

Hobbie wondered who would actually own the improvements — the school, or the town as landowner.

According to Martin Dole former town manager Ormiston was opposed to having any structures on the property. He said the current agreement allowing use of the property was signed in 2021, but the arrangement between the school and town has been in effect for some years.

Kennedy remarked the deadline for applying to ANR for the Outdoor Equity grant is Dec. 15, and competition is intense.

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